Recently, we talked about the origin and history of mattresses. As the ages rolled by, the materials used in mattresses have changed to suit our needs and become more comfortable and supportive. Alongside the technology, mattress sizes have evolved too, going from vaguely human-sized piles of leaves to precisely measured mattresses made from luxurious materials. Step through time as we explore the history of mattress sizes.
Neolithic mattresses had no set sizes, they were made to fit however many people would sleep on it and nothing more. This trend would continue for thousands of years until ancient Egypt, where beds became a manufactured good. Beds were only used by the wealthy and generally slept one or two people, depending on how wide the bed was made. Having a bed at all was considered a luxury, so making them even more extravagant was not a priority.
The Roman Empire covered a lot of territories, and so their furniture was culturally diverse and had influences from many places. Bed sizes, however, were fairly conservative. Most people slept in single occupancy beds. Husbands and wives generally did not sleep together, although newlyweds often slept together in a bed comparable to a double bed.
The medieval period was a dark age not only for mankind but for mattresses in Europe. Arabians in the middle east slept on comfortably stuffed cushions, an idea which was taken by crusaders in the 11th century and brought back to Europe. Mattresses would not see progress after that until the renaissance when bigger meant better.
The Renaissance was a time of rebirth and progress, and in that time we see some of the largest and most ornate beds. The wealthy enjoyed canopied beds of extravagant size, some even larger than modern king size beds. Of course, during this time, it was common for multiple people to sleep in a single bed. This trend in mattresses would continue for centuries to come. One of the largest beds ever made was the Great Bed of Ware, which measured almost 11 feet in length and width and was made in the late 16th century.
The Renaissance was the mattress’s wild phase. They were young and had no limits. After the Renaissance, mattresses calmed down. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, twin size and double beds were the most popular. Queen and King size beds were introduced to the market in the 1950s as a replacement for double beds. In 1999, Queen size beds became more popular than double beds, and double beds have been on the decline since, making up only 5% of mattress sales.
Despite the modern trend for open spaces and minimalist interior design, mattresses have been getting bigger and bigger since the 20th century, just like they did in the Renaissance. Keeping that in mind, King size beds may become the new standard for couples, and something even larger may be taking its place as the symbol of luxury.